Ethiopian official urges Egypt to stop anti-dam ‘smear campaign’

By Addis Getachew
World Bulletin/News Desk

“Egypt is smearing the dam,” Fekahmed Negash, director of boundary and trans-boundary rivers at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

“They [the Egyptians] are [waging] a smear campaign; they are in a diplomatic campaign to really put pressure on construction of the dam, which they have not not succeed in,” he said.

“We always call upon them to really take the reality on the ground, take that the GERD [Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam] will not affect them; rather, [it will] give them lots of benefits.”

Relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa soured last year over Ethiopia’s plans to build a $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, which represents Egypt’s primary water source.

The project has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which fears a reduction of its historical share of Nile water.

Water distribution among Nile basin states has long been regulated by a colonial-era treaty giving Egypt and Sudan the lion’s share of river water.

Ethiopia, for its part, says it has never recognized the treaty.

Negash challenged assertions that the Nile River represented Egypt’s only source of water.

“Egypt [also] has the Nubian Aquifer, which it can use for thousands of years,” he said. “Ethiopia largely depends on rains.”

He went on to say that Egypt “also has access to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, which it can de-salinize.”

“The desalinization technology is already there,” said Negash. “Egypt also has huge water reserves behind the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser.”

He called for bolstering cooperation between riparian states, particularly Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

Negash denied claims that the Ethiopian dam was being erected in an earthquake-prone area. Rather, he said, it was being built on solid rock, insisting that international standards of construction were being adhered to.

He went on to note that Egypt had refused to sign the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), designed to replace the colonial-era water-sharing treaty.

“Egypt was not willing to sign. Egypt distanced from it [the CFA] and this increased the difference between the two countries,” he said.

According to Negash, Egypt “is currently implementing the strategies laid out by [ousted] president Mohamed Morsi, even if he is in prison awaiting trial.”


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